Peter Piper then and now, you won’t believe your eyes!
Oh no he didn’t! Find out what Peter Piper said to make Nobel Laureate Alice Munro cry!
What was Peter Piper really picking? The answer may shock you.
Salsa companies and online dating websites hate him. Look what he found in his pepper patch to drive the ladies wild!
If you’re reading this, you are online, and if you’re online, then you have probably come across clickbait. If you’re not familiar with that term, think about the last time you stood in a long line at the grocery store. You know those tabloids and gossip magazines with the catchy and provocative headlines? You know how you kept trying to avert your eyes but couldn’t? Now think back to the last time you had that feeling while checking Facebook, or reading a news article.
Did you click through? If so, did you find that the article itself didn’t deliver what it promised? You didn’t really find out what was in the pepper patch making the ladies wild, did you?
Those frustratingly enticing headlines are clickbait.
What is clickbait?
Clickbait typically refers to online content that relies on trickery or inaccuracy to lure readers into clicking through a link. The magic is usually in the title, which tries to pique a person’s interest by making it seem as though the article will be extremely interesting while simultaneously withholding any real information. Think of clickbait as a man dressed like a unicorn, prancing in front of a mysteriously glowing door, saying, “There is something very interesting and worthwhile behind this door.” Who wouldn’t open it up?
Needless to say, clickbait is a term with some negative connotations. The purpose of clickbait isn’t to provide interesting and valuable content, it’s to bag some clicks. So imagine if you think that you’re writing some very worthwhile and very interesting article, and someone writes it off as clickbait. That would be upsetting, right?
People are getting pretty loose with the term “clickbait,” in the same way that people can be loose with the term “spam.” Clickbait is misleading, and often dishonest, but just because you find an article dishonest, or poorly written, that does not make it clickbait. At the same time, if you’re writing a crummy article with the sole purpose of getting people to click on it, don’t get upset if someone labels it as a waste of time.
Clickbait is a shtick.
Clickbait headlines are about as obnoxious and crafty as the old dollar bill attached to a string gag. An innocent passerby spots the dollar, and before he realizes what’s going on, he has taken the bait. Even the most sensible person can fall victim to the temptation of a juicy clickbait headline. Of course there are some real suckers out there who don’t find anything suspicious about the dollar bill connected to a string. These are the same people who really want to know what was in the pepper patch to drive the ladies wild.
I imagine professional clickbait writers have a back up hand buzzer in case their primary one fails, they only carry chewing gum that will turn your teeth black, and they know where to find the lowest prices on itching powder. Their idea of fun is writing “Don’t” on stop signs, and they go by an aliases like “The Professor” or “Creepy Spider” or something like that.
Should you get upset over clickbait?
Clickbait is trickery. It’s crafty and it’s slimy. And while it’s annoying, it’s not morally wrong or illegal to mislead unsuspecting readers or lure people into a trap. The witch in Hansel and Gretel wasn’t a bad person because she made her house out of candy. She was a bad person because she ate people without their consent. What I’m trying to say is that it’s your fault if you click on that obviously fishy link, and I have no sympathy for anyone who doesn’t realize that an edible house in a creepy wood is inhabited by a blind cannibal witch.